Dozens of Saudi-sponsored militiamen loyal to Yemen’s former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, have been killed and scores of others sustained injuries when Yemeni army forces and their allies fired a domestically-manufactured ballistic missile at their camp in Saudi Arabia’s southern province of Najran.
The spokesman for Yemeni Armed Forces, Brigadier General Yahya Saree, said on Wednesday afternoon that Yemeni missile defense units launched a Badr-F missile at a position of Saudi mercenaries near al-Khazra border crossing.
He added that the missile hit the designated target with great precision, leaving 45 Saudi-paid militiamen killed and tens of others injured. The death toll is expected to further rise as some of the injured are in critical condition.
Earlier in the day, a woman and her two children suffered injuries when Saudi-led coalition forces launched a barrage of artillery rounds at a residential neighborhood in July 7 area of the strategic western Yemeni province of Hudaydah.
Missiles and mortar shells also rained down on several villages in the Monabbih district of Yemen’s mountainous northwestern province of Sa’ada. There were no immediate reports about possible casualties and the extent of damage caused.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of Hadi back to power and crushing the Houthi Ansarullah movement.
The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the Saudi-led war has claimed the lives of over 60,000 Yemenis since January 2016.
The war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN says over 24 million Yemenis are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including 10 million suffering from extreme levels of hunger.
On Tuesday, Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement has called for the full withdrawal of the Saudi-led military coalition from the conflict-ridden Arab country, after the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a key part of that alliance, said it was going ahead with plans to reduce the number of troops in Yemen.
“We call on the countries of aggression to declare withdrawal from Yemen. The Republic of Yemen rejects the aggression, siege and aerial embargo,” Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the chairman of the Supreme Revolutionary Committee of Yemen, wrote in a post published on his official Twitter page.
He added, “Withdrawal from Yemen is the ideal decision that must be taken at this particular time. It is just good enough for the countries of aggression to use Yemen a test field for European and American weapons for five years, and prove the ugliness of their crimes to the world.”
An unnamed senior Emirati official told reporters on July 8 that the Persian Gulf country was planning troop drawdown in Yemen in what was claimed to be a shift from a military strategy to a “peace” plan instead.
He added, “We do have troop levels that are down for reasons that are strategic in (the Red Sea city of) Hudaydah and reasons that are tactical” in other parts of the country.
“It is very much to do with moving from what I would call a military first strategy to a peace first strategy, and this is I think what we are doing,” the Emirati official asserted.